Effective leadership in a school environment is crucial. Educating kids while keeping the wheels of the school machine working is a huge responsibility and not for the faint of heart. If you are doing the important work of school leadership, we salute you! This week on School Stream, we have collated the wisdom of experts from around globe to bring you this snapshot of effective leadership. 

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Create a high-trust environment and empower others

As Dr Paul Browning writes of his findings in his recent book Principled, ‘one of the most powerful actions for gaining the trust of others is firstly to give it.’ This may well be easier said than done and it can feel risky, especially if you are of the school of thought where the only way to make sure a job gets done properly is to do it yourself. But that’s a fast track to burning out and leaving the profession altogether. There are also tangible benefits for the whole of staff when you nurture a high-trust environment. You empower your team to grow, to flourish, and to bring their unique skills to work. Everyone appreciates being treated as a valuable member of the team supported by the leadership. And we know how lousy it feels when that doesn’t happen. 

Including others is the definition of confidence in a leader

Inclusion extends to your staff as well as to your students – and that includes the ability to self-include as well as including others. If you want to build an aligned team that works together to achieve a common goal, everyone needs to be on-board, feel like they belong and can contribute. Leadership guru and comedian Deborah Frances White says including others is the most powerful, confident thing a person can do in terms of leadership and communication, and we all know that a confident leader will get things done. 

Communication is everything

The old adage is true: ‘Communicate early and communicate often’. Keeping both staff and your parent community updated and in-the-loop leads to a transparent, authentic style of leadership which in turn engenders trust. When the communication side of things is let down, you create a communication vacuum. We all know what happens from there. In the absence of a clear message from leadership, a vacuum tends to be filled with negativity and, in the worst-case scenario, hostility. It’s very hard to regain trust from that position. 

Good leaders are lifelong learners 

Leadership and learning go hand in hand. Luckily, educators tend to be learners by nature, and most are more than willing to admit the sun doesn’t rise and set in their own field of experience. Leadership case studies across all sectors say that taking the opportunity to learn – about yourself, your colleagues, a new skill, the world around you – all generate excitement and opportunities to improve. 

Good leaders prioritise wellbeing 

Following on from our post last week about teacher wellbeing, principals must also carve out some time to take care of themselves. Principals and school staff are flat-out all day every day meeting the competing demands of the job, but it’s vital to find time to regroup and recharge so you can keep your staff and school energised and motivated. It also shows teachers that it’s okay for them to look after themselves too. 

Effective leadership is a deep and complex field. We have only scratched the service here. What have we missed? What do you think is the most valuable trait in a great school leader?

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